Anchorage Assembly make-work schedule is creating burden for city workers

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The left-dominated Anchorage Assembly has made itself into a full-time operation, with a workload of far more than 40 hours a week for each of the Assembly members. Between meetings, work sessions, committee meetings, and community councils, it’s no longer a part-time job. The Assembly has had an Assembly meeting every week since the beginning of the year.

The Assembly now wants to direct the workflow and work days of the Executive Branch by having representatives from the administration attend all of its meetings.

City Manager Amy Demboski says the administration and its managers are busy, and cannot attend all the meetings that the Assembly has. She said the Administration will answer questions in writing.

Assemblyman Felix Rivera sent a letter of demands to Demboski, who has responded that the Assembly can demand all it wants, but cannot direct the employees.

Rivera wrote:

“First, I do apologize that the official meeting invite was only sent out yesterday. But it should be no surprise that the Assembly’s Committee on Housing and  Homelessness is meeting on the third Wednesday of the month at 11am. It has met at this date and time for years. In fact, I stated so at the Assembly meeting on Tuesday, January 11 during my committee chair’s report and even included some of the agenda items for today’s meeting during that report. I explicitly stated that we would be covering some carry-over items from December as we weren’t able to delve into them due to staffing issues,” Rivera wrote to Demboski.

“While I respect the administration’s policy, as a member of the legislative branch, I am compelled to follow the Assembly’s policy and guidelines on the matter of communications with the administration. That policy does not require me to include you, the Municipal Manager responsible for countless other duties, on a simple email to remind Mr. D’Amato about a meeting,” Rivera wrote.

“And I’d like to underscore this fact. It was not an invitation. As chair of the committee, I expect staff to attend to support its work. Especially staff which lead a division within the Anchorage Health Department named “Housing and Homelessness.” Never in the decade long history of this committee has any chair had to officially request staff to attend this important committee which, I can state unequivocally, has critical life and death discussions. But for some reason, this committee has not had adequate staff support since slightly before my tenure as chair. Specifically, this committee has languished and been unable to do its work since October (so October, November, December, and now possibly January, based on your email) because the administration has not sent the necessary staff to assist us in our work,” Rivera wrote.

“Although I am happy to provide clarity on agenda items, I would like to state emphatically that written responses to emailed questions does not replace a verbal discussion at a committee meeting. There are always follow up questions, sometimes multiple layers of follow up questions, whenever we discuss these matters in committee. As I stated above, there are two items for today that have been on the agenda for months which did have written responses from the administration in December. But the administration’s written responses left several questions unresolved and even added new questions. All of these matters should be property discussed in committee in the public eye, not in back and forth emails which are placed on an obscure website for the public to review if they happen upon them,” he wrote.

“As I stated earlier in my email — I find your statements troubling, Ms. Demboski. I am simply trying to do the work of the committee as chair and I would truly hope that the administration is willing to assist and not be an impediment. But to be frank, all I have faced are barriers from the administration to getting the work done,” he wrote.

Demboski responded:

“While I appreciate you sharing the committee’s historical schedule, I think it is reasonable to note that many of our directors are new, and if it isn’t on their calendar, they likely do not have it at the forefront of their minds. Furthermore, I understand the Assembly isn’t required to follow the Administration’s process (hence why I asked for cooperation), but Executive Branch staff do, and will continue to, follow those processes. Thus, intentionally ignoring our process, unfortunately, will only slow down your request and create frustration for you. 

“I also realize you have only been on the Assembly since 2017, and during that time the lines between the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch were blurred. I want to be very clear: you do not control/direct/dictate to executive staff the administrative functions of their positions. It the responsibility of the Executive Branch to ensure the government operations are effectively managed and administered, that requires prioritizing staff time and resources.  

“I can relate to your feelings of frustration; as you stated below, “never in the decade long history of this committee has any chair had to officially request staff to attend this important committee.” There have been many firsts over the past 7 months. Never in the decades-long history of the City has a Mayoral appointment not been confirmed by the Assembly. Never in the decades-long history of the City has an Assembly not only, purposely failed to confirm citizens appointed to Boards or Commissions for political reasons, but delayed, for months, appointments to Boards and Commissions. Never in the decades-long history of the City has an Assembly attempted to move the Administration from their rightful, and historic, location at Assembly meetings. Never in the decades-long history of the City has an Assembly publicly disparaged a Mayoral appointment as to harm their reputation. Never in the decades-long history of the City has an Assembly claimed right over an MOA building, in violation of Municipal Charter, State Law, and the clear Doctrine of Separation of Powers. Never in the decades-long history of the City has an Assembly intentionally ignored statements about fund certification by the Chief Financial Officer of the City. Never in the decades-long history of the City has an Assembly implied the Chief Financial Officer lied to rating agencies to purposefully downgrade the City’s bond rating in the hopes of making an Administration look bad. Mr. Rivera, I could go on, but I am confident my recap will fall on deaf ears. 

“If you would like information from the Administration, we are happy to provide it.  If staff are invited to meetings, they need adequate time to prepare, sufficient basis for the appearance requests, and operational availability with keen consideration that the services we provide to our community will not be impacted. The work done by the AHD saves lives every day, this is critical work that is not theoretical, it is clear, life-saving, and essential to countless members of our community.

“As I have offered many times, you are welcome to share your questions in writing and we will gladly do our best to answer all your questions. If you have specific agenda items that you feel are areas that would benefit from Director feedback, please articulate those and we will do our best to provide you good information that you and your staff can use for your purposes,” Demboski wrote.

24 COMMENTS

  1. There’s not many task or procedures that doesn’t take a “progressive “
    1/2 again as much time to complete.
    Thinking is hard. You know. Especially when there’s numbers and stuff in there too.
    How long before they’ll request assistants for there assistants.
    Look at any bureaucracy and tell me it ant so.

  2. Having spent most of my life in Anchorage I’m aghast now at the depth and breadth of the executive authority now claimed by the Assembly. It’s like they are replicating everything done previously by public employees. So, I’d like to see a petition started or a Mayoral sponsored enactment for charter review and rewrite of the Assemblyman classification. Because we do not have a job description for that class they have bubbled over with intense enthusiasms the city doesn’t share. We thought of them in error as “Our Representatives”. They don’t think like this. We have taxation and no representation except for Eagle River.

  3. As Will Rogers said ‘sometimes you miss a good time to just shut up….it is better to look like a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.!! Felix clearly did not get the memo and shut up as Amy Demboski is head and shoulders smarter and better than he could ever think he is!!!

  4. Creating bull— requires time. None of these clowns will ever enjoy the fruits of their labor, no labor, no fruit.

  5. Mayor Bronson should issue a declaration that his executive employees will attend rogue Assembly meetings as time permits. They shouldn’t be expected to participate in political theater for a bunch of misfit busybodies.

  6. The assembly are working on their goals and presenting their accomplishments. A main and only function for justifying their stipend is re-presenting the concerns, views and issues of the constituents perhaps not attending the meeting. No where is it quantified if they even accept presentation of concerns via phone calls of the views, issues pertinent to their areas of town. In a quarter how many phone calls do they “take” from taxpayers? It would be goal of mine to quantify that. If one person has accepted 2000 phone calls while another accepts zero calls (talk to the hand) is there possibly no equal representation? Is that a “goal” for anyone in this community? I, in error, thought we donated the stipend each month because they agreed to re-present their neighborhood’s unique perspectives. But if the assembly members “do not ever” return phone calls how can they present or re-present anyone? Again, taxation without re-presentation is an expensive thing in Anchorage today.

    • As far as phone calls, I remember the night they had about 10 robo calls reading straight from a script and I don’t think any of them were humans..I think they were robots, and the way the they sounded they kept reading on and on till the Assembly stopped them.

  7. All of Alaska’s challenges are linked. The PFD attracts welfare recipients and as long as we have a disproportionate number of those types within our population we’ll see elections that result in their ilk being in positions of pseudo-administration. Self important twats like Felix who have no actual work qualifications yet are smitten w/ their own do-gooder sensitivities will remain in a position to annoy until such time as Alaska goes through the next correction and he either has to go earn valuable skills or go back on the welfare rolls with the shrinking puddle of constituents in his area.

    Welcome to Alaska’s second 1986, Felix. Genuine effort will be required soon. Best pack your stick soon.

  8. Felix appears to carry a great deal of baggage around from his high school days. I wonder if he’s still triggered by the sight of football uniform and the sound of a flush.

  9. This was inevitable when the Assembly voted themselves a massive raise, OK’d by an equally leftists Mayor.
    .
    Representing the people of Anchorage was never meant to be a full time job, with a massive salary attached. Per GOVSALARIES dot com, Rivera is pulling in $202K a year. Weddleton: $110K. ADQ: $70K.
    .
    When you combine money and power into a single position, you get egomaniacs and control freaks that have no qualms about spending other people’s money and time.

  10. Moving the impounded vehicles and the size of the tent does not require much meeting time, and can be coordinated quickly in writing

  11. This is the direct result of the cozy relationship the assembly had with Berky. Then there is AQD, who I am sure didn’t make a move without Felix, Susanne or Chris giving their blessing. It was obvious that she was put into that temp position to extend the assembly’s access into the mayor’s office. Now they lost all that access and are trying to harass the new guy to get back as much as possible, while finding a reason to get rid of him (to replace him with one of their own again until a new election can be scheduled at their convenience).
    Go Amy and Mayor Bronson! Stand firm!

  12. Seems to me having the different admin people at appropriate meetings would be a good thing. This sounds more like obstruction than progress.

  13. Waddoyoumean!
    WE have to have a JOB DESCRIPTION! Why we are the eight unlimited GOD/Kings of Anchorage, AK! We have no boundaries! :*[

  14. This explains why we been seeing assembly members more which would raise a concern how would they have time for their private employer unless they came out of retirement to spend as much time they spent running anchorage. I thought that was a mayors role. And the assembly were only district reps representing a specific district needs.

  15. Also i think of people working that much are covering up depression. So i will be not careless reducing someones work schedule. What will they do with the free time?when work keeps them saner.

  16. Oh. We CAN alter the blithering balloon shape of this bulbous snake head locally. Here’s another idea for Anchorage’s charter: Just remove the service of Assemblyman completely. We don’t need it. Think of the savings. Also: the mayor will draw volunteer names from a fishbowl each meeting or every six months. They just have to be 35 like the President and residents and have taken and show proof they have taken the approved remedial self-study of the US Constitution (Hillsdale). We will sit on the dais and dine on chewsday. Let’s give it a twirl. Serve for six (6) months then the next volunteer steps in. We cannot do worse.

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